All families have their struggles. Some more than others. It’s only natural with differing personalities for conflict to sometimes arise. But when you are a blended family, things are even more complicated.
When parents remarry and children have to go back-and-forth between two different households, especially when expectations are different in each home, there’s definitely going to be resistance.
If the divorced parents have different rules, then it has to be made very clear to the child that they are to behave a certain way when they’re in your home. Clear expectations of behavior and consequences can alleviate confusion, but still not eliminate resistance from the child.
When children are forced to adjust to new living arrangements it can create frustration and anger. If the children are teenagers it makes for a very challenging situation. It definitely gets complicated. When dealing with hormonal teenagers, emotions are high and patience are low for both the teen and the parents. Obviously dangerous territory.
The most important thing is to have ongoing and honest communication. Communication is key in every relationship. Having family meetings or a sit down conversation, can really help clear up any misunderstandings. How often these meetings should occur depends on how everyone is getting along within the family household. Possibly bi-monthly or weekly, if needed. Whatever is necessary. The catch? All parties need to be completely honest and willing to cooperate for the betterment of the family unit.
When the teenager raises their voice, refuses to make eye contact, or repeatedly make serious, hurtful comments, it’s best, at that point, to let the conversation rest. To pursue the meeting any further when emotions and tempers are high will only escalate the situation. Once you’ve planted the seed, let them be alone a while. Allow time for the ideas to sink in and give them time to sort it out in their own mind. Then, revisit the conversation at another time.
It’s important to make it very clear to the teenagers that disrespect will not be tolerated; whether it’s directed towards the parent or the stepparent. Healthy relationships require boundaries. Even though the emotional teenager wants to be respected, listen to, and make their opinions heard, they must be required to show respect. If not, there is a consequence.
As a teenager myself, I remember my parents saying, “As long as you live in this house, you will follow my rules.” Rules are not made in the home to be dictators and take complete control. Rules are put in place with all family members being considered. In every situation in life we all have rules to follow. If you don’t show up to work on time repeatedly, you will most likely lose your job. If you are often disrespectful to your boss, because you don’t like their rules, you will lose your job. If you speed, you’re going to get a ticket.
There are countless examples in every day society in order to function as a responsible mature adult in life. The expectations, whether at school, work, in society or at home are made to keep the peace, maintain safety and consider all people involved. So not imposing rules for your children and not being consistent with enforcing consequences, in your own home, will accomplish nothing.
As parents, we truly want what is best for our child. As a step parent, you want him or her to like and accept you as part of the family. Consistency is crucial. Show love, care, and respect. Set clear expectations and consequences when rules are not adhered to. Continue to have open communication and remind them that the home is a safe place with people that love them.
Hopefully this helps. Family is very important; to me it is everything! So act with love and keep the communication between you and your children open. If your intentions are good and your heart is in the right place, you are doing all you can. May you always have peace and a happy home. And go ahead, my friends, live your best life.